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Glossary of Terms

Glossary Sources: and


as practiced by WASC and other regional accrediting associations, a voluntary, non-governmental, peer-based form of quality assurance at the institutional level. To receive or reaffirm accredited status, institutions demonstrate that they are in compliance with state and federal law and meet the accrediting association’s standards. Accrediting associations must be recognized by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) in order for their accredited institutions to qualify for federal grants and loans to students.

Accreditation Liaison Officer

the individual at an institution who is assigned to conduct continuing relations with the accrediting agency and to oversee processes associated with the institution’s accreditation status. 


refers to the Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC); may denote either the entire senior college organization or its decision-making body.

Criterion for Review (CFR)

as used by WASC, a Criterion for Review (CFR) is a statement in relation to which an institution is reviewed. Criteria for review are more specific than the four Standards of Accreditation and are intended to define and explain the Standards. Substantial compliance with both the Standards and Criteria for Review is required by state and federal laws for accreditation. CFRs also provide guidance to institutions and form the basis for Commission decisions about an institution’s accreditation status.

Institutional Review Process

in WSCUC usage, periodic review of an institution for reaffirmation of accreditation. Documentation includes earlier reviewers’ findings from annual reports and focused reviews (e.g., substantive change, finance, retention and graduation); the institution’s response to earlier recommendations; and responses to current Standards of Accreditation and expectations. The institution undertakes a self-study and submits an institutional report; the evaluation team then conducts Offsite and on-site reviews. The IRP culminates in a team report, Senior College and University Commission action, action letter, and posting of the team report and action letter on the WASC Web site.

Offsite Review

the first major stage of WASC review for reaccreditation. Carried out by an evaluation team that examines the institutional report, reports of the Retention and Graduation and Financial Review Committees, and other documentation. Offsite review leads to preliminary findings that are subsequently verified by the evaluation team during an physical visit to the institution.


an action that occurs at the end of the institutional review process or when an institution is taken off a sanction; indicates that the institution has met or exceeded the expectations of the Standards. It is granted for a period of seven to 10 years and may be accompanied by a request for an interim report or special visit; simultaneous issuance of a formal Notice of Concern is also possible.


the institution’s process of gathering data and reflecting on its current functioning and effectiveness under the Standards.


a regional accrediting agency serving a diverse group of institutions throughout California, Hawaii and the Pacific as well as a lim-ited number of institutions outside the U.S.